Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Day of Dusty Hunting

Three weeks ago, responding to a classified ad in the Washington Post I visited a nice retired gentlemen who was selling his vintage Wild Turkey decanters. His collection consisted of about 30 or so decanters from the 1970's through the 1980's. It was a very nice collection but unfortunately most of the decanters were empty. Not because he enjoyed that wonderful bourbon over the years but because he didn't. You see, those older decanters contained cork stoppers and they were notorious for evaporation of the whiskey. Of the decanters he initially showed me, only one contained whiskey. Upon further discussion, the nice gentlemen indicated he had a couple more decanters in his storage. These decanters, having been stored in their original boxes for at least 20 years were in perfect condition and all contained bourbon. I brought home 5 decanters that contains some of the best bourbon ever produced; Wild Turkey 8 year 101.

Last weekend I hooked up with a couple of friends and instead of hunting in Washington D.C., we trekked a little further north to Baltimore. We hit approximately 15 or 20 stores and only scored in about 5 of them (typical). In those 5 stores we were able to secure about 35 bottles of various bourbon and rye whiskey. The bottles originated from various distilleries that are no longer in operation and represent some outstanding whiskey.

One of my personal favorites, and one I've mentioned here on this blog, is Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond (BIB). We only found three 500ml bottles of the BIB which was disappointing but to make up for that, we found 2 bottles of Old Fitzgerald Prime 80 proof from 1983 and the more rare Old Fitzgerald 90 proof from 1981. In my years of hunting I've found plenty of Old Grand Dad in the 80 or 86 proof versions but never the Bottled in Bond. Now I know why, they were all in Maryland. I found 2 "handles" which are the larger 1.75L bottles that dated from 1986 and 1987 respectively. In 1987 Jim Beam purchased the Old Grand Dad label but prior to that, it was distilled by National Distillers who did a darn fine job with that whiskey. Too bad, in my opinion, quality suffered under Jim Beam in subsequent years. Brown Foreman has been in the same family for decades and they produce Old Forester. I can say that the Old Forester of today is nothing like the bourbon of yesteryear. I found a 1981 Old Forester Bottled in Bond which to me rivals the Old Fitzgerald of the same timeframe in quality and taste. The last two labels found were new to me; Colonel Lee Bottled in Bond and Pikesville Supreme Rye Whiskey. The Pikesville is a straight rye whiskey and these particular bottles were from 1991. I opened one of the bottles when returning home and it's an excellent whiskey even though only 80 proof. The Colonel Lee is from Barton Distillery which was purchased by Buffalo Trace a year or so ago. We tried the Col. Lee also and found it to be quite viscous and very flavorful. I'm just sorry I found only one bottle.

For those of you who dusty hunt, there's still some great stuff out there just waiting to be found. The bourbons listed above represent some of the best.


  1. Do you use Google Maps to locate stores when you hunt? I never tried hunting, just stumble into an occasional store when I travel outside of Miami and sometimes get lucky.

  2. For this hunt we used Google Maps on the iPhone/Crackberry. In the past I've used MS Streets and Trips. I went to the DC Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration website and downloaded the list of businesses that applied/renewed for a class A retail license. I imported the file into MS S&T which plotted all liquor stores in DC. I broke the city into quadrants initially and just started hunting. Geeky...I know.

  3. Awesome, I'll give that a try when I'm looking to get my dork on haha!

  4. Hey there. I just randomly came across your listing while google searching these bourbons. I just came across three unopened cases of vintage bourbon, one case of Old Fiztgerald 100 proof bottled in bond bourbon dated 0ct 1981 750 ml gift cartons with bows (according to unopened cardboard case. Also one case of unopened old grand dad bottled in bond 100 proof. 12 1 liter containers dated October 27, 1981 and lastly 12 750 ml old forester 750 ml bottle in bond 100 proof dated 1982. Plus other random bottles including old overholt 86 proof from 1974. 11 bottles and others. Any idea of the value of these? Thx.

    1. You're quite fortunate to have cases of all three of these labels. All great bourbons. All these bottles have value to collectors but finding them will be your challenge. As for value, the Old Fitz 750's from 1981 go for about $400 each on the secondary market. The Old Grand Dad liter bottles somewhere around $300 each; the Old Forester around $200 each. The Old Overholt from '74 would be around $500 plus. Again, that's secondary market and in the end, they are only worth what someone is willing to pay. If you have further questions. let me know or contact me at brbnizgud@yahoo.com. Cheers!